Length of Time to Complete Course of Study at Different Academies

I have a question about program completion time for a 3M license at the academies. They each have their pluses and minuses but a big one for me is the time it takes to complete a course of study and obtain the license.

I keep reading that federal regulations mandate at least 3 years for cadets to study at the academy before obtaining their license. Is this true?

Then regarding each of the academies:

SUNY: I am interested in the MS in ITM+LO
In an earlier thread HERE

@saltyseamen mentions that the program at SUNY can be completed in 2.5 years.

Is this true? Is this just for the undergraduate LO or for the MS+LO? Does anyone have any experience with a cadet completing their degree and getting a license in 2.5 years?

Both seem pretty adamant that their degrees take 4 years. Though it seems like this has more to do with limited availability of class times and sequencing. I live in California by the way so Cal is a real option for me as well to keep costs down.

I am interested in the MMAL program +LO. I’ve heard the undergrad program can be completed in 3 years? does anyone have any experience with this?

It is indeed 2.5 years for the grad program + license at SUNY. You can complete all of the required courses and do two 90 day cruises over two summers and graduate in September. I would say about 50% of the grad students do that. If you go the undergraduate route and have significant transfer credits, it would probably be around the same, maybe an extra semester. If you can do the Graduate program, that is definitely to your advantage. Some students take a semester off to cadet ship after their first cruise, which may prolong it, but it’s a worthwhile experience. I have no regrets at all in attending SUNY, it has been very good for me.

Also, the new training ship should be operational during your time there, should you attend. Just something else to think about.

Has the keel actually been laid on that thing?

This was sent to Alumni the other day.

The question I get asked the most when I talk with Alumni these days is: “What is the status of the replacement ship for TS Empire State IV ?”

MARAD is in the process of selecting a Vessel Construction Manager (VSM) to oversee the National Security Multi-mission Vessel (NSMV), which will replace Empire State . Once that VCM is in place, bids will be solicited for a shipyard to construct the vessel through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Prior to the federal government shutdown, MARAD expected to have the VCM process in place by the end of February and for the construction RFP to be announced this spring. MARAD expects the ship to be delivered in 2022. I will keep you posted as I know more about the timeline and the impact of the federal government shut down.

The State Maritime Academies, meanwhile, are working closely with MARAD on training related outfitting requirements for the NSMV. At Maritime College, I have established a NSMV Construction and Outfitting Committee to ensure that we capture requirements from the license faculty and crew. The new ship will provide much more space for training, labs, and workshops and I want to ensure that we take full advantage of this expanded space. Before the holidays, Maritime College hosted a meeting on campus with key stakeholders including MARAD, other State Maritime Academies, and the NSMV architect to review each space and its intended use. This will help us to identify classroom, lab, simulator, and workshop equipment to be purchased and define installation specifications such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, power, and other services required to support that equipment.

I will frequently travel to Albany this year, as I did in prior years to Washington, D.C., to advocate for state funding to outfit the NSMV and upgrade the services at our pier to support the new ship.

Best wishes for the New Year and as always I appreciate your feedback and support of Maritime College.


RADM Michael Alfultis, USMS, Ph.D.
State University of New York, Maritime College




Yeah, you would think they would be further along on this by now. I think 2022 is a reasonable goal, still. There’s a few shipyards that could get it out pretty quick, and although it’s a government vessel i don’t think it is nearly as complicated as a military vessel. Time will tell.

TSES VI for life!!

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Most students at SUNY take 4-5 years to graduate with their undergraduate degree and their third mate’s license. Some cadets take advantage of the program and may graduate in 3 or 3.5 years due to transfer credits and rigorous course loads as well as some doubling up their cruises.

March 2023 now…

Texas is adamant that no undergrad or graduate level license option degree program can be completed under 3 years. 3 year minimum enforced. Unless things have changed recently.

I do believe SUNY with their 2.5 year grad program takes the cake currently for shortest path to unlimited licensure. Assuming one has a previous bachelors of course.

See 46 CFR 310.3(c )(1).

Thanks jdcavo. Curious, how does SUNY go about skirting the 3 year minimum curriculum requirement for its grad program?

Can’t verify nor comment on the state schools. jdcavo addressed that with Cfr’s, he knows them like the back of his hand. Can only say USMMA the Federal Academy will require 4 years. IF you don’t get set back over grades and lucky enough to be asked to return, then 5 years.

Despite Cal’s official line, each year several students (often 10 or so) graduate after only 3 years plus a summer cruise. There is no guarantee that the classes will be available, but it can be done, if you transfer in several gen ed courses.

I have seen especially motivated students complete the grad license program at SUNY in 2 years. However I was informed that there are not going to be any more split cruises so you cannot complete 3rd and 2nd class cruise in o e summer anymore. You will have to go out cadet observer for a semester.

Sea year at KP is 1 year split between 2nd and third year. Sea project (Both trips) weigh a bit on completion. Still have 3 years of classes on campus.

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I think we have been through this before, no?

You’d have to ask MARAD, it’s their requirement. Coast Guard regs for maritime academies and 3rd Mate only reference MARAD’s rules. Note thet the alternative of a Coast Guard approved program odoes not currently include a time requirement,. prior to 2014 it specified 3 years. I suppose an argument could be made that the program is not a MARAD 46 CFR 310 program and is a Coast Guard approved “apprentice mate” program, but it’s been ion its current form prior to the removal of the 3 year time requirement in Coast Guard regulations, and maybe more telling, anyone oin that program gets a an MMC as Deck Cadet, which is only for MARAD programs.

Prior to STCW (circa 2001) Great Lakes was a 3-year program, it was only 4 years if you wanted a Bachelor degree from Northwest Michigan College.

There are more than a few that take 5 years (or more) to complete KP. . . .

Yes, most finish in four years, some go to that “Pre-school” out west, and a few promising candidates do get what they call “set backs” . My son played on the line with one of them. The guy is a great fellow from Texas and sailing as a successful second mate as we speak. Glad KP gave him a second chance. Strong like bull.

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